How they got here:

The unexpected — yet not implausible — swift resurgence in Ozaukee baseball has team at state

OZAUKEE’S BLAKE WEST took a throw from a pitcher to keep a Brookfield Academy runner close to first base in last week’s sectional semifinal. The Warriors won, 4-3, and blew out Sturgeon Bay, 13-2, to advance to the Division 3 state tournament. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Ozaukee High school baseball coach Steve Kowalkowski could see the passion and participation in America’s pastime has started to rebuild.

He runs Saukville Youth Baseball — participants go on to attend Port Washington or Ozaukee high schools — and has seen its numbers increase. Besides that, people are trying to rejuvenate a program in Fredonia, he said.

“The life of baseball has really come back around here,” he said.

The Warriors’ qualifying for the state tournament — one year after going 3-20 — is only going to help the cause, Kowalkowski said.

Of the Warriors’ five Division 3 playoff victories so far, two have gone to extra innings and another was a comeback, one-run affair.

The only blowout of the bunch was the sectional final, a 13-2 demolition of Sturgeon Bay to make school history and send the Warriors to Appleton.

In the semifinal at Random Lake, Ozaukee topped Brookfield Central, 4-3.

Down, 3-2, entering the fifth inning, the Warriors scored twice to take the lead for good and hung on.

Jack Genzmer led off by reaching on an error, then stole second and got to third on another error. Noah Miller was intentionally walked and stole second. In the process, Miller got into a pickle and Genzmer raced home. The ball was bobbled at home plate and the game was tied.

Ben West followed with a blooper to the pitcher that dropped in, and Miller scored what would become the winning run.

Brent Hoffmann started and went four innings, throwing 62 pitches. Kowalkowski saved some of his pitches for the second game of the day.

Hoffmann allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits, walking two and striking out three.

Miller went the final three innings, whiffing four and walking two.

The Warriors broke the ice in the first inning. Mitch Weyker doubled to left field, and Miller followed with an RBI double to left.

In the third, Miller clocked a high home run to center for the Warriors’ second run.

Before that, No. 2-seeded Ozaukee had to get by top-seed and Big East Conference co-champ Random Lake on May 29.

They came in with confidence after only losing to the Rams, 3-1, earlier that month.

The Warriors held a 3-2 lead heading into the seventh inning. The Rams scored one to tie it and send it to extra innings.

Ozaukee soon ended it and won, 5-3.

Logan Bell hit a one-out double, and Jacob Eibs hit an RBI single. Weyker later hit a hard grounder that led to an error and scored Eibs.

The Rams tried to come back, but Ozaukee got the final out at home.

Weyker hit the leadoff batter, got an out and allowed a single. Then, on a grounder to shortstop, Miller flipped to Simon Bares at second for the force out. The Rams’ lead runner tried to score, and Bares fired home.

Freshman catcher Matt Miller “held his ground” in front of the plate and tagged out the “barreling in” runner to end the game, Kowalkowski said.

Bares had line-drive singles in the fourth and fifth innings. Bell had an RBI triple in the sixth.

Noah  Miller went 6-1/3 innings, allowing three runs (one earned) and six hits, walking one and whiffing six. Weyker went the final 1-2/3 innings, allowing one hit and walking one.

The day before that, the Warriors had a 5-4 walk-off victory in eight innings over rival Cedar Grove-Belgium at Kewaskum.

Twice, things didn’t look good for the Warriors. They entered the seventh inning down one run but tied the game.

Then, they allowed three runs in the eighth before scoring four to win it.

“We were leading the whole game,” Cedar Grove-Belgium coach Tom Race said.

Bradley Katte, who led the state in strikeouts, according to wissports.net, went six innings and allowed one earned run and three hits, whiffing 12 and walking three.

Hoffmann went six innings for Ozaukee, allowing one run and one hit, whiffing eight and walking three.

The Rockets took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Jeffrey Emperley doubled over the right-fielder’s head, and Jacob Bohlman bunted him to third. Katte hit an RBI sacrifice fly to center.

In the seventh, Katte walked two batters and was pulled as he neared the 100-pitch limit.

Zach Zimpelman came in and struck out a batter. Hoffmann then reached on a hit, and Zimpelman walked the next batter.

One fielder’s choice moved the runners and another on a ball hit by Bell tied the game.

In the eighth, Bohlman got a one-out walk against Matt Miller and then stole second. Weyker made a great throw from his catcher spot, but Bohlman, a senior, used his savvy to slide away from the bag while reaching out to tag it, Race said.

Katte followed with an RBI triple off the wall. Mason Noll and Matt Poull followed with RBI doubles off the wall.

“All three of those hits I thought were out (of the ballpark),” Race said. “We’re feeling really good, up 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth.”

Weyker led off Ozaukee’s half of the frame by reaching on an error. Noah Miller singled, and Bares got hit by a pitch to load the bases. Hoffmann singled to center for two RBI, and Blake West grounded out to bring in another run.

Bell followed with a line-drive single to right on an outside curve ball from Zimpelman that scored Bares and Hoffmann.

“It was a crazy inning. Great game,” Kowalkowski said.

“Ozaukee’s just a great ball club. I really like their coach, just a great guy. Just sportsmanship on both sides,” Race said.

“Just a tight, tight game. We easily could have won that game.”

The Rockets finished 8-11.

Ozaukee (12-8) was to face Markesan (21-5) Wednesday in one state semifinal. Boyceville (19-3) plays Straftord (20-2) in the other. The winners face off on Thursday for the title.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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